Cover image for Intended consequences : birth control, abortion, and the federal government in modern America
Intended consequences : birth control, abortion, and the federal government in modern America
Critchlow, Donald T., 1948-
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Publication Information:
New York : Oxford University Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
x, 307 pages ; 24 cm
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HQ763.6.U5 C75 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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After World War II, U.S. policy experts--convinced that unchecked population growth threatened global disaster--successfully lobbied bipartisan policy-makers in Washington to initiate federally-funded family planning. In Intended Consequences, Donald T. Critchlow deftly chronicles how thegovernment's involvement in contraception and abortion evolved into one of the most bitter, partisan controversies in American political history. The growth of the feminist movement in the late 1960s fundamentally altered the debate over the federal family planning movement, shifting its focus from population control directed by established interests in the philanthropic community to highly polarized pro-abortion and anti-abortion groupsmobilized at the grass-roots level. And when the Supreme Court granted women the Constitutional right to legal abortion in 1973, what began as a bi-partisan, quiet revolution during the administrations of Kennedy and Johnson exploded into a contentious argument over sexuality, welfare, the role ofwomen, and the breakdown of traditional family values. Intended Consequences encompasses over four decades of political history, examining everything from the aftermath of the Republican "moral revolution" during the Reagan and Bush years to the current culture wars concerning unwed motherhood,homosexuality, and the further protection of women's abortion rights. Critchlow's carefully balanced appraisal of federal birth control and abortion policy reveals that despite the controversy, the family planning movement has indeed accomplished much in the way of its intended goal--the reductionof population growth in many parts of the world. Written with authority, fresh insight, and impeccable research, Intended Consequences skillfully unfolds the history of how the federal government found its way into the private bedrooms of the American family.

Author Notes

The author and editor of nine books, including The Politics of Abortion and Birth Control in Historical Perspective (1996) and most recently, With Us Always: Private Charity and Public Welfare (1998), Donald T. Critchlow is founding editor of The Journal of Policy History, has been a fellow atthe Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C., and has taught at Hong Kong University and Warsaw University.

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Booklist Review

Experts on policy and population assess what we've done over the past 50 years--and what we need to do. Critchlow, founding editor of the Journal of Policy History and author of several studies in this field, draws on newly released archives to trace the history of family planning policy in the U.S. As early as the Eisenhower-Kennedy years, population groups and foundations were lobbying for federal action to reduce the frightening rate of U.S. and especially world population growth. Moving tentatively at first, the Johnson administration made family planning an element of both domestic and foreign policy; Nixon built on this groundwork but encountered backlash that politicized the issue from the '70s to the present. Critchlow concludes that government action had a positive effect on world population growth and that they encouraged a substantial consensus on family planning often obscured by tension over abortion and culture wars, although domestic family planning programs never achieved hoped-for reductions in poverty and unwed births. Hardin, an emeritus ecology professor, is perhaps best known for his widely anthologized essay "The Tragedy of the Commons." Here, he scolds economists for living in denial, preserving Adam Smith's "no limits" long after population growth has made it obsolete. Hardin's argument will be controversial; using concepts from Malthus and Darwin, he declares "In a competitive world of limited resources, total freedom of individual action is intolerable." He calls for "community-sensitive" limits on reproduction, based on "a policy of mutual coercion, mutually agreed upon"; insists on strict limits on immigration; and rejects multiculturalism within nations. Sure to stimulate debate. --Mary Carroll

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. 3
1 Laying the Foundation for Federal Family Planning Policyp. 13
2 Moving Forward Quietlyp. 50
3 Implementing the Policy Revolution under Johnson and Nixonp. 85
4 The Backlash Roman Catholics, Contraceptives, Abortion, and Sterilizationp. 112
5 Richard Nixon and the Politicization of Family Planning Policyp. 148
6 Contesting the Policy Terrain after Roe: from Reagan to Clintonp. 184
Conclusionp. 225
Notesp. 239
Indexp. 297